learning management systems

All posts tagged learning management systems

In a prior post I touched briefly on how e-learning tends to be, well, oversold. To follow up on this I wanted to review the relative costs associated with e-learning and compare to other technologies. With nearly one-third of training content being delivered electronically (according to ASTD’s 2008 State of the Industry Report) it’s no wonder it is such an easy go to. While e-learning is often broken into four interactivity levels – Low Interactivity, Moderate Interactivity with Emulation, Intermediate Interaction with Simulation, and Advanced Interaction with Simulation, the vast majority of other options do offer a higher level of interactivity for the user when compared to traditional e-learning. Many organizations used to turn to e-learning options due to the lower cost of development when compared to other methods… well, high virtual world development costs are now a thing of the past.

Other learning methods, such as virtual worlds allow for strategic and analytical thinking, and let’s not forget about the authenticity of utilizing a real learning environment – i.e. mimicking a virtual world to the actual workplace environment. All of this equals the ability to master skills and practice in a safe yet challenging environment. Scenario-based learning and problem-solving scenarios are hot! While 99% of the time e-learning it’s not very engaging. Notice the figure below which shows a rating of 1.20 (Equaling to rarely or never) when survey participants were asked if e-learning programs were authentic, realistic and immersive much like Second Life. Obviously even the current users of e-learning agree it is just a run-of-the-mill type of training instrument that while it may decrease costs of live training it is by no means a 100% solution to training demanding workforces of today.

Image courtesy of ASTD

Money is always a barrier no matter what type of training method is being examined. One must consider the lifespan of the course- can additional content easily be added? Here are just a few of the relative questions you will be asked when developing training (and may influence the price):
• How will the training be delivered?
• Average seat time?
• Where will the source content come from?
• What learner/trainee tracking capabilities will be offered?
• Project timeline?
Some pricing is based per hour of training while other pricing strategies give you an all-in-one package price from start to delivery of the entire project. Some e-learning vendors also charge on a per screen basis, gee isn’t that special?! Let’s keep in mind e-learning technology and content can easily be outdated, can be cumbersome to add additional training content to and doesn’t show a high Return-On-Investment (ROI) when compared to other (and more advanced) training methods. So here’s to out with the old and in with the new. I say virtual worlds and other cutting-edge learning technologies will be becoming more mainstream in the near future mainly due to the cost savings that they offer as well as the higher level of interactivity that they offer the participant….and, perhaps most importantly, their proven ability to affect behavior in a predictable and desirable fashion!

I just can’t seem to get my head wrapped around why some people think that e-learning is the best thing since sliced bread. Popular in the late 1990’s, I believe that once upon a time it may have been the cat’s meow…but with all of the (newer and more advanced) learning technologies on the market today, not so much. Is an investment in e-learning still beneficial for companies? Sure, e-learning technology may be advancing – but will it ever be good enough? Or do fancier PowerPoints capture the learner in ways that other more advanced learning technology can? The vast majority of companies are looking to lower-cost alternatives while also providing more efficient training. With more and more computer-savvy employees (read digital-natives) the demand for immersive training is here to stay…and only growing! The ability “to-do” something in a virtual environment, rather than the monotonous point and click feature that e-learning offers is a huge benefit across all generations of the workforce. So why are many still stuck in the rut of e-learning? The real answer is:
People don’t know, what they don’t know!

The real challenge is educating decision-makers that better, lower cost and lower life cycle cost alternatives exist now. The decision-makers are usually advised by constituencies heavily vested in traditional e-learning technologies and attendant instructional design philosophies. The biggest hurdle we see is one of getting the instructional design folks up to speed on advanced vw design and proven vw world benefits for learning/training sims. Once they see the light, there is no going back!

The major selling point of e-learning was flexibility – train anytime, anywhere. Now a host of other vw based options offer that same flexibility and much, much more for less. So long boring e-learning, it’s been nice knowing you!